Healthy Hydration at Half-Time

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Spring sports are here and so are sports drinks and juice boxes.  These drinks are loaded with sugar and are NOT necessary.  Unless you or your kids are real endurance athletes or are really sweaty, water is best.

A small gatorade (355 ml) has 21 grams of sugar.   A pouch of Capri Sun has 16 grams of sugar and is loaded with high fructose corn sugar.  Both are full of artificial ingredients and chemicals.  The World Health Organization recommends limiting sugar to 5% of your diet.  That’s about 6 teaspoons a day or 22 grams per day for an adult with an average BMI (even less for kids). A juice box or sports drink is your entire day’s worth of sugar in one drink.

Yes, hydration is really important.  The American Council on Exercise recommends the following for adult athletes.

  • Drink 17-20 ounces of water two to three hours before the start of exercise.
  • Drink 8 ounces of fluid 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise or during warm-up.
  • Drink 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
  • Drink an additional 8 ounces of fluid within 30 minutes after exercising.

This would be too much for children, but it is a good guide.  The point is to hydrate before, during and after exercise.

If you are worried about electrolytes lost during exercise they can actually be restored with food.  Include the following nutrients in your after workout meal:

Magnesium: Dark leafy green vegetables and nuts (almonds, spinach, and cashews).

Sodium: Table salt.

Potassium: Focus on fruits and vegetables. Broccoli, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes are all great sources of potassium.

You can even make your own sports drink using this simple recipe:

Homemade Sports Drink

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of coconut water
  • 1 cup of strawberries
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of ice
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons natural sugar or honey, to taste

Directions

Combine ingredients and blend.

Give it a shot next time you are packing drinks for those soccer or lacrosse games.  I’d love to hear what you think!

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